The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), on Wednesday, took over the security of the Surat airport in Gujarat with the induction of about 360 armed personnel for providing a counter-terrorist cover to the facility, officials said.
This is the 65th civil airport under the aviation security group (ASG) of the central force, which functions under the Union home ministry.
Surat, about 300 km from the state capital Gandhinagar, is the biggest diamond cutting and polishing hub of the country, and as per officials, the airport handles over 1.25 lakh passengers per month.
The Centre had sanctioned the manpower for the airport in the middle of the year 2020 but, the CISF induction at the facility, run by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), kept getting delayed due to logistical issues, officials told PTI.
The induction took place on Wednesday during a ceremonial event attended by officials and representatives of the Gujarat government, AAI and the CISF, they said. A deputy commandant rank officer will head the CISF contingent that is about 360 personnel strong, they added.
The airport has regular commercial flights connecting major domestic destinations like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Bangalore among others and was being guarded by personnel of the Gujarat Police and their reserve units till now. In Gujarat, the CISF already guards the airports at Bhuj, Bhavnagar, Vadodara Ahmedabad, Rajkot, and Porbandar.
The 1.62-lakh personnel strong paramilitary force is designated as the national civil aviation security force and the government has earlier said that it will be gradually given the charge of more and more civil airports. There are about 100 operational airports in the country at present.
The CISF, as per its existing protocol at other civil airports, will provide a 24x7 armed cover to the facility, and frisk passengers and their luggage ahead of boarding a flight.
The troops will be armed with assault rifles like the AK series and INSAS and will man the airport perimeter from watchtowers erected at vantage positions apart from having a vehicle-borne quick reaction team, an officer had said earlier.
With PTI inputs.